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Rudy Giuliani, abortion, and Roe v. Wade



Charles Krauthammer very nicely defends Giuliani's intellectually honest pro-choice/anti-Roe position (and debate answer) against attacks of "pandering" from the left and right:

Democrats are pro-choice and have an abortion litmus test for judges they would nominate to the Supreme Court. Giuliani is pro-choice but has no such litmus test. The key phrase in his answer is "strict constructionist judge." On judicial issues in general he believes in "strict constructionism," the common conservative view that we don't want judges citing penumbral emanations and other constitutional vapors to justify inventing new rights they fancy the country needs.

However, one strict constructionist might look at Roe v. Wade as the constitutional travesty it is and decide to repeal it. Another strict constructionist judge could, with equal conviction, decide that after 35 years the habits and mores shaped by Roe v. Wade are so ingrained in society that it should not be overturned.

And there is precedent for strict constructionists accepting even bad constitutional rulings after the passage of time. The most famous recent example is Chief Justice William Rehnquist for years opposing the original 1966 Miranda ruling as "legislating from the bench" but upholding it in 2000 on the grounds that it had become so ingrained in American life that its precedential authority trumped its bastard constitutional origins. (He used different words.) In a country with a rational debate about abortion, Giuliani would simply have been asked how he would regulate (up to and including banning) abortion. That's not a relevant question here because neither presidents nor legislatures nor referendums decide this. Judges do. All presidents do is appoint judges.

 

 


Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.